Brendon Shank is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia.
“What’s a hospitalist?” Despite the growth of the specialty and the more than 30,000 hospitalists around the world, it’s a question that hospitalists hear every day. While individual answers might vary, SHM is helping hospitalists with their job description by updating the definition of both “hospital medicine” and “hospitalist.”
“The healthcare sector and hospital medicine are advancing together at an unprecedented rate,” says SHM President Scott Flanders, MD, FHM. “SHM saw these changes as an opportunity to better define the specialty and the individuals that practice it.”
The new HM definition exemplifies SHM’s efforts to include multiple roles and activities within the specialty, including nonphysician providers “who engage in clinical care, teaching, research, or leadership in the field of general hospital medicine.” It also incorporates other concepts that have become core to hospital medicine, such as collaboration and QI.
The new hospitalist definition starts simply: “a physician who specializes in the practice of hospital medicine.” It goes on to detail the training and certification that many hospitalists undergo and references the newly created Fellow in Hospital Medicine program and the new Recognition of Focused Practice in HM program created by ABIM.
“These concepts are the very center of what it means to be a hospitalist and practice hospital medicine,” Dr. Flanders says. “They are the driving force behind the ways that hospital medicine is transforming healthcare and revolutionizing how we take care of patients.”
Hospital Medicine: A medical specialty dedicated to the delivery of comprehensive medical care to hospitalized patients. Practitioners of hospital medicine include physicians (“hospitalists”) and nonphysician providers who engage in clinical care, teaching, research, or leadership in the field of general hospital medicine. In addition to their core expertise managing the clinical problems of acutely ill, hospitalized patients, hospital medicine practitioners work to enhance the performance of hospitals and healthcare systems by:
- Providing prompt and complete attention to all patient care needs including diagnosis, treatment, and the performance of medical procedures (within their scope of practice).
- Employing quality and process improvement techniques.
- Collaborating, communicating, and coordinating with all physicians and healthcare personnel caring for hospitalized patients.
- Safe transitioning of patient care within the hospital, and from the hospital to the community, which may include oversight of care in post-acute-care facilities.
- Efficient use of hospital and healthcare resources.
Hospitalist: A physician who specializes in the practice of hospital medicine. Following medical school, hospitalists typically undergo residency training in general internal medicine, general pediatrics, or family practice, but may also receive training in other medical disciplines. Some hospitalists undergo additional post-residency training specifically focused on hospital medicine, or acquire other indicators of expertise in the field, such as the Society of Hospital Medicine’s Fellowship in Hospital Medicine (FHM) or the American Board of Internal Medicine’s Recognition of Focused Practice (RFP) in Hospital Medicine.
SHM Leadership Academy Positions Hospitalists for the Next Level
To find the future leaders of HM, you don’t have to look any further than SHM’s Leadership Academy. The hands-on training for hospitalists, program administrators, and others in the specialty continues to receive rave reviews from participants.
“The feedback we receive from academy attendees is always overwhelmingly positive,” says Tina Budnitz, SHM’s senior advisor for quality improvement. “After they take Level I, they’re eager for Level II. After they take Level II, they’re eager for even more.”
Budnitz estimates the Leadership Academy now boasts more than 1,200 graduates.
The most recent Level I session in Scottsdale, Ariz., included a facilitator at each table to spark discussion about leadership styles and related issues among the attendees, all of whom are responsible for management roles in an HM practice. The room received real-world training in understanding their natural leadership styles, conflict resolution and negotiation, financial management, and understanding the needs of a hospital CEO.
The academy also teaches “financial storytelling”—the art of interpreting all the numbers involved in running a HM practice and weaving them together into a narrative for hospital leaders. “I spoke with one hospitalist who planned on taking the skills from Leadership Academy to start her own program,” says Budnitz. “It’s exciting to see this course get ideas started.”
The next Leadership Academy is Sept. 13-16 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Register at www.hospitalmedicine.org/leadership.